When it comes to any goal in life, and here we are focused on landing media interviews, you have to be able to step outside of yourself and look at the entire picture. I do this on a regular basis as I work with clients, and I watch others do it (well or poorly) as I book guests for the Something You Should Know podcast.
This may seem counterintuitive, but when an author is reaching out to book an interview, it isn’t about the book. And it isn’t about the author.
The exception: Book reviews. Then it really is all about the book.
But in other situations it isn’t about all the time you’ve spent researching, writing, and editing. It isn’t about how you put your life on hold for five years to get the book done, and it isn’t about all the praise you’re getting from others. (This can help when it comes to credibility, but when first reaching out, it isn’t about credibility, and experience, and examples, etc. That comes later.)
I touched on this last week when sharing about the “So What?” test and WII-FM. (That’s the “What’s in it for me?” station.) You can read it here if you missed it.
In order to hook others, it is all about them. It’s about the final viewer or listener and helping them, but even before that, it’s about the media person you’re approaching. You have to land him or her first before you ever reach your target market, at least when it comes to earned media.
The media person is different from your final reader because he or she is the gatekeeper and has been pitched hundreds and maybe thousands of times, so your approach needs to be very focused on grabbing their attention by not sounding like everyone else.
I’m sure you’ve heard it said that you can get others’ attention by talking about them and the things they’re concerned about. On average, people spend 60% of conversations talking about themselves and that number jumps to 80% when communicating via social media platforms. Yes. We all enjoy talking about our own interests. It’s human. But when you want to book interviews, you must do the opposite of that.
You may get tired of my saying this, but it’s all about being unique in some way. And in order to be unique, you have to know what is already out there. How are your niche mates positioning themselves, and find another way to do it.
There are those who say to investigate the media person’s social media profiles and come up with some interesting information about them that you can put in the first part of the pitch. Fair warning: Be careful with that. There is a line between being personal and stalking them.
I think it’s better to show you know what they’re about by consuming their content. If they’re a podcaster, listen to some shows. If they’re a writer, read their column or blog posts. If you’re going to pull out a piece of information to show them you know them, then make it something that relates to their content creation. Doesn’t this make a lot more sense?
Now, I know this is time consuming. You don’t have to tell me that, and there are plenty of PR people out there who will do a blast of the same pitch to everyone, mostly because it takes a lot less time and you reach more media. However, if you look at the results, I am confident you will find spending the time to research each outlet increases your chances of coverage many times over a “blasted pitch”.
I know your campaigns are all about you and your book. You have done a phenomenal job and I am here to tell you that you’re amazing, but you don’t want to start with how great you are. After all, have you ever met someone at a party or gathering, and they launched into how great they are and spelled out every reason why? How long did it take you to extract yourself from that conversation?
We have to put your impressive work aside for a bit and think about what others need from you…first.
This is really the most challenging piece to many people. In fact, one of the ways I choose the Savvy Sunday topics is from my work with clients the previous week: What are you struggling with? What are the beliefs and ideas you have that are getting in the way? What needs to be clarified. (And, by the way, you can always suggest topics to me either by hitting “reply” or by filling out a form here.)
Another place where I see this played out is in social media. It’s fine to share about yourself, but there is a big difference between an author sharing their experience of writing their book versus posting an ad for buying it. This is both a skill and an art. Pay attention to those authors who do this well, and see what you can learn from them.
Clubhouse is where I’ve been playing lately, and while it’s a fascinating platform for numerous reasons, some of the speakers go on and on and on about themselves before sharing anything helpful. I think that’s a mistake. But I digress…Maybe that will be an upcoming blog post topic. Clubhouse.
When you want to hook the media with your topic, you must first show and explain why it is relevant. Why would anyone care right now? Put some thought into it. If you have a topic that can apply to the anxiety of opening up during/after the pandemic, know that that angle is being pitched A LOT. I say this as both a publicist who works with the media every day, and as the producer of a podcast being pitched endlessly. Unless you can propose it in a way that is unique and different and very “hooky” it isn’t going to fly. Media’s eyes will just glaze over.
But you’re never going to come up with something relevant to others if you’re stuck on yourself and your book. If you want others to be interested, you must show them how it will help them. It isn’t enough to be interested in your own topic and love your own book.
Here are some additional strategies for pitching media:
Offer a contrarian point of view.
I love this one and use it quite often. If others in your particular space are all saying one thing, e.g., “The only way to lose weight is to lower your calories and increase your exercise,” and you say, “Studies show that losing weight is more complex than calories in, calories out. 50% of those who need to lose weight could do so with this method.” Now you need to have science behind you. You can’t just make things up, and if you’re a credentialed expert it helps. Offering a contrarian point of view makes you unique and can give you enormous coverage.
Make a national story into a local story.
Where do you live? If you want some local press coverage, showing how you tie into a national story can get you featured in your own backyard.
Take a local story and make it national.
The above trick also works in reverse. Take a look at your hometown stories and ask yourself if this story has national relevance? How can you frame it for a reporter and insert yourself in the story in the process? I use this one often as well, and it works beautifully.
Tie into a news trend.
This one is pretty obvious. What are anchors, reporters, and talk show hosts discussing right now? Can you offer a one-off story? That means the news may not be about you, but here is how what you offer relates to the story.
Tie into the holidays or the seasons.
We talk about this fairly often, and with good reason. It works to make you timely, but here is something else that’s priceless to know. Every year the media is going to have to cover the same holiday and seasonal stories. It can get old when they always seem the same…you’re tired of reading or hearing them and media folks are tired of covering them. Every Father’s Day you’re going to read countless stories on gifts for dad. So, can you offer a spin that is different? Can you be unique? If you can offer a new twist on a seasonal story, you may become that media person’s “go to resource.”
Remember to keep your focus on how you and your book can help others. It is critical. This is true for fiction and memoirs too. More on that another time. The strategies offered here are gold in terms of landing more media coverage. Let me know how you’re doing, and good luck!
To your success!
P.S. And when the media attention begins flooding in, it feels pretty good!
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